The Last Witness: 94-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor

Jul 01, 2023 1.6M Views 10.7K Comments

► Video edited by: Natalia Santenello

[Peter] Good morning, guys.
Today we have the great privilege
to meet up with a Holocaust survivor.
Lucy Jacobs, who was at
the Auschwitz concentration camp
at the age of 14.
Lucy has very descriptive
and strong accounts of what happened
at Auschwitz because she was 14.
Very few survivors from that experience
are still alive here today
to tell their stories.
We’re gonna meet her,
I believe in her apartment
or at least in the waiting room here
at this senior assisted-living facility.
All right, let’s do this.
-[knocking]
-[Woman] Hello?
-[Woman] Hi
-[Lucy] Hi, come in.
-Hi, look at you.
-[Peter] Hello, Lucy. Nice to meet you.
-[Lucy] Hello.
-Can I shake your hand?
-Yeah, sure.
-My pleasure. Nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you. Same here.
I have a tattoo from Auschwitz.
“Sixteen thousand,
five hundred ninety-eight.”
I worked in the kitchen so I got a tattoo.
-You don’t want to get it removed
or you can’t get it removed?
-I could but I don’t want to.
I want to die with this.
-Why?
-Because I got it, and it saved my life,
and I’m gonna die with it.
-The number saved your life?
-When I got the number I was happy.
So they won’t send me anymore
in the crematorium.
-Oh, so if you got the number
you didn’t get the gas or the crematory?
-I was working.
I was 14 years old
when I went into concentration camp.
-With my mommy and daddy.
-Mm-hmm.
-They separated me from my mommy.
My mother went–
I had a little sister, eight-year-old.
She went with my little sister
and I went to the left.
And my mommy went to the right,
to the gas chamber.
And I’m walking, crying.
You know, yelling,
“Mommy, wait for me.”
“Let her go.”
-Uh-huh.
-Mommy turned around
but they were pushing her, the SS.
“Los, los, go go, go.” to the crematorium.
And I’m walking… crying…
between the wires.
I didn’t know where I was.
I didn’t know nothing.
I got… crying after mommy.
Comes a guy…
Never ever saw in my life.
With striped clothes…
with concentration camp clothes.
And he says to me,
“Little girl, why you crying?”
I said to him, “Because they pushed me,
my mommy went there.”
“I can’t talk to my mommy.”
So he says to me,
“Don’t cry. How old are you?”
I said, “I’m 14.”
“No, no, no, no, no, promise me
from now on you are 16.”
I said, “But I never lied.”
-Mm-hmm.
He said, “Now you gonna lie.”
and I never saw him again, he left.
Never again in my life… like an angel.
[Lucy from other room]
That’s my parents.
That’s my mommy and daddy.
And over there on the bottom,
my family picture.
I’m there, a little girl.
I’m right in the middle.
I’m still crying… walking, walking,
until I wind up at a group of older women.
Not old ones… older than me.
-Mm-hmm.
Mature women.
That they take away their babies,
they give it to their mother
and they went on this side to work,
and the mother went
to the crematorium with the baby.
[sniffs]
-So if you were 14
you would have went with your mother?
-Right.
-So they were holding 16
to what age to do the work?
-To work.
-They took us into a big building…
-Mm-hmm.
-They cut our hair… bald.
-Like this.
-[Peter chuckles]
-All of us… we looked like monkeys.
I had long hair down to here.
They took away my clothes.
They gave us a moo moo dress…
for one fits for all.
They took away my shoes, my good shoes,
and they gave me wooden clogs.
I couldn’t walk in it,
I almost broke my neck.
No warm clothes, no nothing.
It was March… and it was cold.
I tied up all my clothes
because I had double…
Double clothes.
My daddy said, “Put on double.”
Case they take away one,
you have another one.
-Mm-hmm.
-My daddy was an animal doctor.
-We were seven children.
-Okay.
-And I’m the only one here now alive.
-They…
-I had survived two brothers.
And one sister,
she was not in concentration camp.
She was as a Christian in Budapest.
-So all your other siblings
and your father
was also killed at the concentration camp?
-Auschwitz?
-Auschwitz.
One brother… I find when I came home.
One brother… he survived Buchenwald.
-Oh.
How long were you at Auschwitz for?
-I was in Auschwitz for two years.
-Two years?
-How did you sleep? Like, in–
-Like ANIMALS!
-How? Like all on the floor?
-No, we had bunks in Auschwitz.
-Okay.
-In Auschwitz only.
In Bergen-Belsen, on the floor.
In Auschwitz was bunks, wooden bunks.
-Three layers.
-Uh-huh
-No mattress.
-Uh-huh.
-No blanket… sleeping like animals.
-So every day
you were just doing hard work?
-Every day, hard work.
First I was digging… and water.
-Okay.
-We had to turn around the water.
It went this way,
they wanted it to go this way, the water.
-You were digging, like, trenches?
-Yeah, and we were
in water up to our legs.
-And you had, like, SS guys above you
telling you to work harder?
-Yes, watching us.
Oh yeah, the dogs.
The German Shepherds.
-How did they treat you?
-Terrible.
If you didn’t do the work… what you were
supposed to, they were beating you.
Three crematoriums
was going on day and night, the flame.
-Yeah.
-And they were burning… humans.
-Three of them… The smell was horrible.
-Ugh.
-Because the flame went out
and the smell went out.
-And your only crime was being Jew?
-The only crime, because I’m Jewish.
-I didn’t do nothing, I was a kid.
-Yeah.
What gave you hope?
Like to get through every day?
-To get through, I talked to God.
-You talked to God, okay.
-I talked to my daddy,
to my mommy, talked to God.
Not once, and not twice,
I wanted to kill myself.
Going to the barbed wires and get burned.
There was barbed wires all around.
We couldn’t run away because barbed wires.
And a Nazi… was on a post.
All up top in a little… booth.
-Yeah.
-And they were watching.
But if you don’t want to live you just go
to the barbed wire and you got killed.
Got burnt.
-You… Did you see that happen?
-Yeah, I saw happen… plenty people.
They didn’t want
to live no more like that.
So they went to the barbed wire
and they got killed.
Me too, I had my mind put up for that,
but God said, “No, not your time.”
-Is there a specific…
In those two years, a specific story
that really sticks out
in your head that you can share?
-Yeah… hunger.
-Hunger?
-[laughs in disbelief]
-Not knowing when
you’re getting the next meal or what?
-Hun… I couldn’t eat that meal.
-It was garbage.
-What did they feed you?
-Like for pigs.
-Like just grain or what?
-No, they came with trucks
and they poured them on the ground.
Beets… those beets.
-Oh, yeah.
-And we cut them up… with the sand!
-With everything, went into kettles.
-Oh, yeah.
-And they cooked that,
and then they served that for the people.
Once a day.
We got served once a day.
-One meal a day?
-One meal a day.
-What about water?
-In the more… Water…
In the morning we had chicory coffee.
You know what chicory means?
Hmm, imitation coffee.
-So imitation coffee and beets…
and then you had to work all day?
-Yeah.
-So you were skinny,
how much did you weigh?
-Like a rail?
-[softly chuckles]
Who weighed themself?
Who had the scale?
-But everyone looked like this, huh?
-Everyone
-So when you’re in it,
you have no idea you’ll be freed.
-You had no idea.
-No.
-So you’re like,
“This is the rest of my life.”?
That’s right and I figured
if this is the rest of my life
and if I’ll get tired, I kill myself.
-Did you make friends there?
-With other prisoners?
-Yeah, with other Haftlings.
They called them.
-Half what?
-Haftlings, haftling.
-That’s in German… partner.
-Okay.
-I made a friend that I made…
That we became like sisters.
You know, she was my age
so we became like two sisters.
And we were on
the dead march together too.
I was on the dead march.
-The dead march?
-From Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen.
When the Russians
were coming closer in January…
-1945, right?
-1945, right.
They were coming closer
to liberate Auschwitz.
So they took us, I was the last one
in camp because I worked in the kitchen.
-Mm-hmm.
-So they took us on a dead march.
-Mmm.
To march.
They gave us one blanket.
And in the moo moo dress,
and the wooden shoes.
And we were marching.
-Mm-hmm.
-Out of Auschwitz because Auschwitz
was close to be occupied by the Russian.
So they didn’t want us to be freed.
And wherever was room,
they took us to Gross-Rosen.
They took us to Buchenwald.
There was no room for women.
-Only for me, they were half dead.
-Mm-hmm.
-The men was… like flies…
They’re dying.
They couldn’t take it.
Women is stronger than men.
I saw that the first time in my life.
-They’re stronger physically, mentally?
-Yeah.
The men sat down,
they couldn’t walk anymore.
They say down,
and they got right away, a bullet.
-So more women survived than men?
-More women, right.
-Interesting.
So when the Soviets were coming
you looked at them as a liberators
or you didn’t know at that time?
We were chased out.
-We never met the Russians.
-Okay.
But they had their own
bad history with the Jews too.
-Who, the Russians?
-The Russians, yeah, they had the pogroms.
-I don’t know because I wasn’t there.
-Yeah.
-But one thing they did…
They raped a lot of girls too.
They survived but…
-So you do this death march.
You get to Bergenov, right?
-I did the death march
and we tried a few camps.
And it was no room for women,
only for a few men.
-Kay.
-So they took all the men
and we were still marching.
I remember… in one city we had…
Red Cross was there.
-Okay.
-And they wanted to give us a little food.
-We were starving.
-Yeah.
-So they said,
“You’re not allowed to talk…”
“You’re not allowed to ask anything,
you’re not allowed to open your mouth.”
So they gave us a little coffee.
But I don’t remember what else.
-Uh-huh.
-And that was when we were marching.
And from there, we marched again
and they didn’t have room
in this camp and that camp for women.
So what did they do, the Nazis?
They put us on cattle trains.
Open wagon.
Cattle trains… and from there
we went to Bergen-Belsen on the train.
-On the cattle train.
-Hmm.
-I don’t remember what city we started.
And we went open wagons.
It was winter.
We were…
like penguins… hugging together.
Because we were cold… no clothes.
And we wind up in Bergen-Belsen.
Bergen-Belsen,
I came off from the train…
-From the wagon…
-Mm-hmm.
-And we got into camp…
-It was a Typhus outbreak.
-Mmm.
-That was a camp… full the Typhus.
-Mm-hmm.
-And I didn’t know.
But I had a girlfriend
that I made as a sister in camp
and I said to her,
“We gonna wash up.”
“And we gonna go
and see who’s working in the kitchen.”
-Yeah.
-We worked in the kitchen.
So we did that.
Next day we went and washed-up
and we went into the kitchen.
You were not allowed to go
and you could get a beating.
So I said,
“We get a beating… we get a beating.”
-Mm-hmm.
-There was the SS, The old SS
that we worked for in Auschwitz.
-Uh-huh.
-In Birkenau.
[gasps]
And he says to me,
“Oh my God, the kleinen Lucy.”
“The little Lucy is here.”
-He recognized me.
-Oh, my God… yeah.
I said, Herr Oberscharfuhrer,
that means, you know,
big person.
I said, “Can I come back to work please?
“Please, I don’t want to sit.”
There was no bunks, only on the floor.
-Yeah.
-Nothing.
Just on the floor, not even wooden floor.
Cement!
So I said to my girlfriend,
“We gonna die here.”
-Mm-hmm.
-We survived all that.
And we gonna die here
because there is no bed, you know?
There is Typhus outbreak.
So we wind up working
in the kitchen a little
until I got sick, Typhus, myself.
-Oh, jeez.
-Mm-hmm.
-Do you remember the SS… officers?
Do you remember their faces
and how they looked?
-Yeah, I had…
They were older.
Because they couldn’t
send them on the front.
-Yeah.
-But they send them
to concentration camp to watch people.
-So you think these are evil people,
or brainwashed people, or what kind–
-Brainwashed!
-They’re just brainwashed?
-Brainwashed.
-So anybody can become brainwashed?
-Yeah.
-So anyone could be an SS officer?
-Anyone could be an SS.
-If they’re put into fear enough
and manipulated enough?
-Brainwashed… brainwashed.
They all were brainwashed.
And they did their job.
-So they thought
they were doing the right thing?
-Sure.
-Did you feel at this time
you knew the war was ending?
Because you’re getting moved around a lot?
-No, because we were still with the Nazis.
-Okay, and then when the war ends,
it’s just like one day you’re let free?
How does that work?
-Sweetheart, I was sick, Typhus.
-Yeah.
-I was in the hospital.
-Then we became free.
-Okay.
-And they came, they shook me.
Because I was half dead.
“Don’t die, don’t die, we are free.”
I didn’t pick up my head
after a few days.
They had to teach me how to walk.
I couldn’t walk.
-Because you were so sick?
-And then once you could walk–
-They took me to hospital from the floor.
Because I was half dead.
They find me half dead, the British
when they occupied Bergen-Belsen.
-What was your actual age then, 16?
-Yeah.
-So on the records
you were 18 but you were 16?
-Yeah, right.
I would be 16, they would never
marry me in Czechoslovakia.
-Okay.
-You had to be 18.
-So I was–
-You got married right away?
-I had to, I had no home.
-You met a man?
-Nobody to feed me.
-How’d you meet the man?
-Through my uncle.
-Okay.
-They were together in the Army officers.
-Mm-hmm.
-And he knew him, he was 20 years older
and… just married me.
-He was 36?
-Yeah.
-But I had a home.
-Yep.
-He was already in business.
-Mm-hmm.
-And he had a home.
He never was married.
So he was 20 years older…
-Did you get along okay?
-Yeah, he was an older man,
he was very jealous of me.
-[scoffs]
-Oh, really?
You were a very attractive
young woman I bet.
-After… after… after.
Not right away, after I came to myself.
I guess I was attractive
and he was jealous.
-Ehm.
-20 years is a lot of years in between.
-So you went from
a very horrific situation
to another difficult situation?
-Right, but I had no choice.
-Yeah.
-I had no money to feed me.
I wanted to go back to school
to finish my school.
-Okay, did you?
-I… No.
-You didn’t go?
-I couldn’t, I had no money to feed me.
Nobody to take care of me.
-But once you got married
did you go back to school?
-No.
-Okay.
-I went to work.
-You went to work?
-He had a business
and I went to the business
every single day.
Even when I was pregnant with him
I went every day to business.
-So what was culture like then
in Czechoslovakia?
It’s 1946, on the streets, the war ends.
Is there… everyone trying to forget it?
-No.
-Is there a lot of tension
on the streets with people?
No, I will never forget it in my life!
Of course you wont forget it
but I’m saying…
What was the feel? Like, were people–
-It was a normal life.
-It was normal life?
-Yeah.
Czechoslovakia was, then, a normal life.
I mean my husband was in the army,
was an officer.
He had a store,
he had an apartment, he was…
-Did they accept the Jews then?
-Yeah.
-It was like nothing happened?
-Nothing happened, the war was over.
-How long did you stay there,
Czechoslovakia?
Czechoslovakia, I stayed from…
From’45 ’til…
Years… three years.
We went to Israel in 1948.
-Oh, okay.
-We closed the store during the night.
-Mm-hmm.
-Never went back.
Because the Russian occupied.
Marched into Czechoslovakia.
-Yeah, yeah.
-And we took off,
we didn’t want to become Russian.
I had a baby.
A two-year-old baby, my son.
And we took off.
We went from Czechoslovakia to Italy.
-Hmm.
-We went to Italy,
in Italy we found a Jewish organization.
And we went from Italy to Palestine.
It was not Israel yet, it was Palestine.
-Yeah… what…
How did you get… You went by boat?
-By boat.
-By fair boat… was animal, used to ship.
The British were just starting to go out
and the Arabs was running away.
Because they were afraid of the Jews.
And after that we became State of Israel.
My husband was in the army, officer.
-Okay.
-And I have a book.
A reserve book because I had a child.
-Mm-hmm.
-And that’s how we started life.
-How long did you stay in Israel for?
-10 years.
10 years… we had a hard time.
-It wasn’t easy?
-We went to Israel
when Israel wasn’t Israel yet.
-Yeah.
-No electricity.
-We had an Arab…
-Hot, huh? So hot?
-Hot.
-No electricity, no water.
-Yeah.
-I had to carry water from here to…
-[sighs]
-Yeah?
If you want to wash clothes… c’mon.
-So…
-Was a hard life, very hard life.
-Yeah.
-And then
after a couple years
when it became Israel
we had electricity,
we had water in the house.
I had an Arab apartment.
They had no bathroom, just a hole.
-[Peter sighs]
No toilet.
Just a hole in the floor.
-So with your experiences–
-I went through a lot in my life.
-Yeah.
No problem seems like
a problem now, right?
-Thank God, no. I’m in America, I’m free.
-Okay.
-And to me,
that means everything… to be free.
-Yeah.
So you came to America,
did you love it… immediately?
-I loved it immediately
because I had a big family here.
-Yep.
-My grandfather’s brothers,
my grandfather’s sisters,
and a big family.
So I became here like their…
angel.
[exhales]
-And how has America been to you?
-Good.
-Good?
-Good.
I went to work in a factory.
-Where?
-In New York, in Manhattan.
-Okay.
What factory?
Button holes.
-You made the button holes?
-Button holes on uniform for the airline.
-So when you were at work,
having a manufacturing job, right?
Doing manual labor,
and then your coworkers might complain.
“Oh, this is so hard… difficult.”
You’re like,
“No, I got a story that’s hard.” right?
-I had to work
because I had to make a living
and I had to pay my rent.
-Yeah.
-My rent was almost $100… $99 a month.
And I had to work two weeks… for that.
-But it was easy compared to
what you’d been through, right?
-Of course.
-It was nothing?
-Of course, nothing.
America… God bless America.
I was free. I was free to–
But the subways killed me.
-The subways?
-You don’t like the subways?
-No.
Not once, not twice,
a man relieved himself on me.
-Oh, yeah, yeah.
-In the subway like sardines. [scoffs]
I hated the subways.
-So you’ve lived in New York.
You’ve lived in Florida.
-I lived in Bronx… in the Bronx.
-In the Bronx?
-Yeah, on Jerome Avenue.
-And you lived in Florida?
-And I lived in Florida.
-Where else?
-Las Vegas.
-And you came here
because you love gambling or why?
-No, I don’t like to gamble.
[chuckling]
-It was a bad jo–
-I’m not a gambler.
-Why’d you come here to Las Vegas?
-I… Because of my son.
-Okay.
-I lost my daughter.
I had a beautiful daughter.
She was… a young girl.
She lost her husband.
He was 50.
And she was 40.
She lost her husband.
When she lost her husband
she decided to sell everything
out in New York
and come to live near me in Florida.
-Mm-hmm.
But
God took her.
She got sick.
We were very close with each other.
She got sick and she passed away on me.
-I’m sorry.
-Yeah, very young.
And I decid– My son decided for me.
That if I’m–
Right after the funeral he drug me here
to his apartment.
-He lived on the strip.
-Mm-hmm.
And talked to me,
sat down with me, I was very depressed,
“Mom, I find a place. It’s gorgeous.”
“It’s clean, it’s new,
you’re gonna meet people,
you’re gonna mingle.”
“You’re not gonna be alone in the house.”
So I thought about it, I said,
“Look, I only have
one child left, my son.”
So I made my decision.
I gave up everything there.
Sold everything out there
and moved down to Las Vegas.
-What would you have
to tell young Americans
that haven’t gone through–
Well really any American
hasn’t gone through
the experiences you went through.
What would you have to tell them?
-Young American…
They have to be good to their parents
and they have to appreciate America.
-Yeah.
-It should never happen to them,
what happened to me.
-Yeah.
-They should be good.
And appreciate that they’re here.
And they free… They have freedom!
-No Communism.
-How–
How when– If someone has
only know freedom their whole life?
They don’t know anything else.
-They don’t appreciate.
-Right, like anything.
-No, it’s coming to them.
-You don’t know.
-No, no.
They think it’s coming to them.
No, no it’s not.
-But in your life,
your freedom went like that? [snaps]
In one second, right?
-It was tough… Tough life for me.
So I appreciate every day, what I got.
I thank God every single day.
Just keep me here
as long you keep my brains.
-And you’re doing very well.
-When my brains are going, I wanna go.
-Okay.
-I want to go back to New York.
I’m gonna be buried in New York.
-You’re gonna be buried in New York, okay.
-Yeah.
-Well you’re almost 95.
-I’m next month, gonna be 95.
-And you are–
-July 15, next month
On my papers I’m gonna be 97.
-Ha, that’s interesting, huh?
-Yeah.
Thank you for listening to my story.
-No, thank you for sharing ’cause a lot–
-Oh…
A lot of survivors don’t talk about it.
-A lot of people
don’t want to talk about it.
-And a lot of people
still don’t want to hear it.
-Yeah.
-So we’re even.
-[Peter chuckles]
-They don’t want to hear it.
-Yeah.
-I know a lot of people,
they don’t want to hear it.
But a lot of people want to hear it.
I went to a lot of homes…
to tell my story
and schools
in Catholic schools and Jewish schools.
Can you imagine,
I came to a school, a Catholic school
and the whole ceiling
was with
planes.
The kids made it.
-Oh.
-And this was a Catholic school.
The six million Jews…
were made on the roof.
-Oh, wow…. Wow.
-And made me cry.
That the kids from the school made
those planes to put them on the ceiling
For the six million.
-No one should ever forget this.
-No one. No one.
-Yeah.
-Now on memorial day… they showed
in the movies… on television.
I couldn’t believe it.
That they showed the six million people.
[hand slaps]
That they were talking about it.
Six candles were lit.
-For six million?
-For the six million.
-You were glad that they were doing that?
-Oh, yeah.
-Anything else you want to say, Lucy?
Anything else you want to share?
-You are a wonderful person.
-Thank you.
-Thank you so much and God bless you.
-Nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you, Lucy.
-And just be healthy.
-Thank you for speaking out. Okay.
-And I tell you, you do–
This is the biggest…
God should give you health.
-What you’re doing.
-Okay.
-To interview me and listen to my story.
-Thank you, Lucy.
-God bless you.
-God bless you.
-Hugs?
[kisses]
Okay guys… Quite a…
[pfft]
What do you say?
I don’t know what you say to that.
None of us will ever get it
unless, you know,
you went through something like that,
which there are only a few
living to this day that have
gone through that experience.
So we gotta thank Lucy for sharing…
that story with us.
And I’m sure it’s not fun to revisit.
To think about her family
and what happened and…
I mean what a horrific… life story
but considering, it’s quite impressive
that she’s doing as well as she is
at the age of 95.
What a nice wonderful woman.
All right, guys.
Thanks for coming along.
Until the next one.

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